Skip to main content

Full text of "The Cambridge Natural History"

See other formats

MEN AND APES                                  585

Ape, and quite as great as or even a trifle greater than the cranial
capacity of some female Australians and Veddahs. But as these
latter are not 5 feet in height, the Ape-like man had really a
less capacious cerebral cavity. The skull in its profile outline
stands roughly midway between that of a young Chimpanzee
(young in order to do away with the secondary modifications
caused by the crest) and the lowest human skull, that of
Neanderthal Man. This creature is truly, as Professor Haeckel
put it, " the long searched for ' missing link/ " in other words
represents " the commencement of humanity."
The remains of Apes, more distinctly Apes than Pithecanthropus,
are known from Miocene strata of France. Two genera, JPlio-
pithecus and Dryopithecus, are known. The former appears to be
close to Hylobates. Dryopithecus is more Man-like than any
other, and seems to have been as large as a Chimpanzee. The
incisors are human in their relatively small size. But it has
been pointed out that the long and narrow symphysis of the
lower jaw is a point of likeness to the Cercopithecidae.
Fam. 3. Hominidae.—Apart from Pithecanthropus, which per-
haps is a member of this family, but whose remains permit us to
leave it among the Slmiidae, at least for the present, the family
Hominidae contains but one genus, Homo, and probably but one
species, H. sapiens. The characters of the family may therefore
be merged in those of the genus.1
Though it is easy enough to distinguish a Man from an Ape, it
is by no means easy to find absolutely distinctive characters which
are other than " relative." As Professor Haeckel has pointed out,
there are really only four characters which differentiate Man:
these are the erect walk, and the consequent modification of the
fore- and hind-limbs to that position; the existence of articulate
speech ; the faculty of reason. "Whether one body of psycholo-
gists are right who argue that reason is a distinctive human
attribute, not to be confused with the apparent reasoning powers
of lower animals, or whether others are justified in separating
Man only in degree from the lower animals, it is clear that this
very diversity of opinion prevents us for the present from utilising
such characters as absolute differences. In any case the dis-
cussion of these matters is beyond the scope of the present book.
1 See especially "Wiedeirslieim, The Structure of Man, transl. by Howes, London,